a friendly service covering audit, tax, accounts, self assessment,

VAT & payroll please contact us.

New clients - easy three step process

We  offer cloud-based accounting solutions.  Using good technology saves time.  With the power of cloud accounting in your hands, you can access accurate real-time data on the go, accept instant payments and even automate repetitive tasks like invoicing. Fast, easy, touch-of-a-button software can make a real difference to the way you run your business.

Adrian Mooy & Co - Accountants Derby

... a digital firm using the best tech to help our clients

like yours grow and be more profitable.

Welcome to Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd

We offer a personal service and welcome new clients.

We are a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants

and tax advisors in Derby helping businesses

From start-up to exit & everything in-between.

Whether you’re struggling with company formation,

KASHFLOW

+

SNAP

IRIS

OPENSPACE

SAGE

MAKING

TAX

DIGITAL

XERO

+

RECEIPT

BANK

CHASER

FUTRLI

FLUIDLY

GO

CARDLESS

annual accounts and taxation, payroll or VAT you can

count on us at every step of your business’s journey.  For

QBO

If you are looking for a Derby accountant then please contact us.

○  Quality checked firm - awarded the ACCA Quality Checked mark

○  Tax solutions to help you keep your income

○  Cloud-based accounting solutions

○  Transparent affordable pricing

Accountants Derby
Accountants Derby

TAX BRIEFING

SEPT 2019

Would you like a Consultation?

Call us on 01332 202660

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Services

We offer a range of high quality services

Web-based accounting

Xero is a web-based accounting system designed with the needs of small business owners in mind.

 

It can automatically connect to your bank and download your bank statements. From there it’s simple to tell Xero what transactions relate to and once told it remembers and looks out for similar transactions. This saves time and makes keeping your accounts up to date easier.

 

Log in from any web browser. As your accountant we can log in and provide help.

 

Making Tax Digital - VAT

Our process for delivering tax accounting vat self assessment and payroll services

 

Arrow indicating direction of process flow

Our Process

Understand your needs

Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.

Continuous improvement

We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.

Build a relationship

Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.

Confirm your expectations

Our aim is  to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.

Actively communicate

Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.

Our Process

Understand your needs

Confirm your expectations

Actively communicate

Build a relationship

Continuous improvement

Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time.    Eddie Morris

Call us on 01332 202660

Testimonials

First class! Super accountant! We have been with Adrian Mooy & Co since 1994. They provide a prompt, accurate & reliable service. There is always someone at the end of the phone to help and advise us. They have always delivered and we are more than happy to recommend them.    Ian Cannon

Helpsheets

Business expenses

Being savvy with your expenses is a large part of running a successful business, regardless of its size. Claiming expenses is a simple way to keep your business tax efficient – it reduces your profit, which in turn reduces your tax payments. By claiming every allowable expense you’re making sure you don’t pay a penny more in tax than you have to.

 

For more information about exactly what expenses you can claim, see our helpsheets.

  • Getting ready for off-payroll working changes

    From 6 April 2020 the off-payroll working rules that have applied since 6 April 2017 where the end client is a public sector body are to be extended to large and medium private sector organisations who engage workers providing their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company.

    There are tax and National Insurance advantages to working ‘off-payroll’ for both the engager and the worker. The typical off-payroll scenario is the worker providing his or her services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company. Providing services via an intermediary is only a problem where the worker would be an employee of the end client if the services were provided directly to that end client. In this situation, the IR35 off-payroll anti-avoidance rules apply and the intermediary (typically a personal service company) should work out the deemed payment arising under the IR35 rules and pay the associated tax and National Insurance over to HMRC.

    New rules

    Compliance with IR35 has always been a problem and it is difficult for HMRC to police. In an attempt to address this, responsibility for deciding whether the rules apply was moved up to the end client where this is a public sector body with effect from 6 April 2017. Where the relationship is such that the worker would be an employee if the services were supplied direct to the public sector body, the fee payer (either the public sector end client or a third party, such as an agency) must deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the intermediary.

    These rules are to be extended from 6 April 2020 to apply where the end client is a large or medium-sized private sector organisation. This will apply if at least two of the following apply:

    • turnover of more than 10.2 million;
    • balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million;
    • more than 50 employees.

    Where the end client is ‘small’, the IR35 rules apply as now, with the intermediary remaining responsible for determining whether they apply and working out the deemed payment if they do.

    Getting ready for the changes

    To prepare for the changes, HMRC recommend that medium and large private sector companies should:

    • look at their current workforce to identify those individuals who are supplying their services through personal service companies;
    • determine whether the off-payroll rules will apply for any contracts that extend beyond 6 April 2020;
    • start talking to contractors about whether the off-payroll rules apply to their role; and
    • put processes in place to determine if the off-payroll working rules will apply to future engagements.

    Workers affected by the changes should also consider whether it is worth remaining ‘off-payroll’; providing their services as an employee may be less hassle all round.

  • Are low emissions cars tax efficient?

    Significant changes are being made from 2020-21 to the company car tax benefits-in-kind bands affecting ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

    The taxable benefit arising on a car is calculated using the car’s full manufacturer’s published UK list price, including the full value of any accessories. This figure is then multiplied by the ‘appropriate percentage’, which can be found by reference to the car’s CO2 emissions level. This will give the taxable value of the car benefit. The employee pays income tax on the final figure at their appropriate tax rate: 20% for basic rate taxpayers, 40% for higher rate taxpayers and 45% for additional rate taxpayers. This formula means that in general terms, the lower the C02 emissions of the car, the lower the resulting tax charge will be.

    For 2019-20, the appropriate percentage for cars (whether fully electric or not) is 16% for those emitting 50g/km CO2 or below, and 19% for those emitting CO2 of between 51 and 75g/km. This means that the taxable benefit arising on a zero-emissions car costing, say £30,000 is £4,800, with tax payable of £960 for a basic rate taxpayer - for a higher rate taxpayer this equates to tax payable of £1,920.

    By way of comparison, a 2001cc petrol-engine car with a list price of £30,000, will attract an appropriate percentage of 37% in 2019-20. This equates to a taxable benefit charge of £11,100, and a liability of £2,220 a year for a basic rate taxpayer.

    New bands - In April 2020, new ULEV rates will be introduced, and the most tax efficient cars will be those with CO2 emissions below 50g/km. There will also be additional financial incentives for electric only cars

    From 2020-21, five new bandings are being introduced for full and hybrid electric cars. Fully electric (zero emissions) cars will attract an appropriate percentage of just 2%. This means that the tax benefit arising on an electric car costing say, £30,000 will be just £600. The resulting tax payable by a basic rate taxpayer will be £120 a year and £240 for a higher rate taxpayer.

    For cars emitting CO2 between 1-50g/km, the percentage will depend on the car’s electric range:

    Mileage                     Percentage

    130 miles or more        2%

    70 – 129 miles             5%

    40-69 miles                  8%

    30-39 miles                 12%

    Less than 30 miles      14%

    ULEVs with CO2 emissions of between 50g-74g/km CO2 will be on a graduated scale from 15% to 19% (diesel-only vehicles will continue to attract a further 4% surcharge) as follows:

    CO2 emissions         Percentage

    51 to 54g/km               15%

    55 to 59g/km               16%

    60 to 64g/km               17%

    65 to 69g/km               18%

    70 to 74g/km               19%

    75 or more                   20%

    Plus                             1% per 5g/km

    Up to a maximum        37%

    Whilst the journey towards ‘greener’ driving has been, and continues to be, a rocky one, in 2014/15 a sub-130g/km petrol car was considered green enough to merit an 18% appropriate percentage. However, by 2020/21, the appropriate percentage on such a car will have risen to 30%. A sub-100g/km band car that was only subject to a 12% charge in 2014/15 will also have risen to 24% by 2020/21. On the other hand, clean air all-electric cars will finally plummet to 2% under the new company car tax incentives from April 2020.

    The incentives are clearly designed to encourage ULEVs as a company car driver’s car of choice.

  • Electricity for electric cars – a tax-free benefit

    The Government is keen to encourage drivers to make environmentally friendly choices when it comes to choosing a car. As far as the company car tax market is concerned, tax policy is used to drive behaviour, rewarding drivers choosing lower emission cars with a lower tax charge, while penalising those whose choices are less green.

    The use of the tax system to nudge drivers towards embracing electric cars also applies in relation to the taxation of ‘fuel’. As a result, tax-free benefits on are offer to those drivers who choose to ‘go electric’.

    Company car drivers

    Electricity is not a ‘fuel’ for the purposes of the fuel benefit charge. This means that where an employee has an electric company car, the employer can meet the cost of all the electricity used in the car, including that for private journeys, without triggering a fuel benefit charge. This can offer significant savings when compared with the tax bill that would arise if the employer pays for the private fuel for a petrol or diesel car. However, it should be noted that a fuel charge may apply in relation to hybrid models.

    Example

    Maisy has an electric company car with a list price of £20,000. Her employer meets the cost of all electricity used in the car, including that for private motoring. As electricity is not a fuel for these purposes, there is no fuel benefit charge, and Maisy is enabled to enjoy her private motoring tax-free.

    By way of comparison, the taxable benefit that would arise if the employer meets the cost of private motoring in a petrol or diesel company car with an appropriate percentage of 22% would be £5,302 (£24,100 @ 22%) for 2019/20. The associated tax bill would be £1,060.40 for a basic rate taxpayer and £2,120.80 for a higher rate taxpayer.

    However, the rules do not mean that an employee loses out if they have an electric company car and initially meets the cost of electricity for business journeys and reclaim it from their employer. There is now an advisory fuel rate for electricity which allows employers to reimburse employees meeting the cost of electricity for business journeys at a rate of 4p per mile without triggering a tax bill. However, amounts in excess of 4p per mile will be chargeable.

    Employees using their own cars

    Currently, there is no separate rate for electric cars under the approved mileage payments scheme. This means that the usual rates apply where an employee uses his or her own electric car for business. Consequently, the employer can pay up to 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in the year and 25p per mile for subsequent business miles tax-free. If the employer pays less than this, the employee can claim a deduction for the shortfall. Payments in excess of the approved amounts are taxable.

    Employees with their own electric cars can also enjoy the benefit of tax-free electricity for private motoring – but only if they charge their car using a charging point provided by their employer at or near their place of work. The exemption also applies to cars in which the employee is a passenger, so would apply, for example, if an employee’s spouse drove the employee to work, charging their car when dropping the employee off or picking the employee up.

  • Worthless assets and negligible value claims

    Where an asset has been lost or destroyed or the value of the asset has become negligible, it may be possible to take advantage of an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes. It should be noted, however, that the loss will only be an allowable loss if any gain on the disposal of the asset would have been a chargeable gain.

    A distinction is drawn between assets that have ceased to exist and those that have become of negligible value.

    Assets that have been lost or destroyed - The entire loss, destruction, dissipation or extinction of an asset is treated as a disposal or that asset, regardless of whether or not any compensation is received. The resulting loss is allowable for capital gains tax purposes. If any compensation is received, this is treated as proceeds from the disposal.

    Negligible value claim - If the asset still exists but has become of negligible value, as long as one of two conditions – A or B – is met, a negligible value claim can be made by the owner of the asset.

    The legislation does not define ‘negligible’ but HMRC take the view that it means that is worth ‘next to nothing’.

    Condition A is that the asset has become of negligible value while still owned by the person.

    Condition B is that:

     • the disposal by which the person acquired the asset was a no gain/no loss disposal (as is the case between spouses and civil partners)

     • at the time of that disposal, the asset was of negligible value

     • between the time when the asset became of negligible value and the disposal by which the person acquired it, any other disposal of the asset was on a no gain/no loss basis

    Asset must still exist - For a negligible value claim to succeed, the asset must exist when the claim is made. If the asset has ceased to exist, for capital gains tax purposes there has been an actual disposal of the asset (as outlined above in relation to assets lost or destroyed).

    No time limit - There is no time limit by which a negligible value claim must be made. However, the asset must be of negligible value at the date of the claim. The claimant must be able to demonstrate that the asset became of negligible value while owned by them (or where acquired from a spouse or civil partner in a no gain/no loss disposal, while owned by their spouse or civil partner). Evidence should be retained to support the claim.

    Effect of a successful claim - A successful negligible claim gives rise to a deemed disposal of the asset, with the asset immediately being reacquired for the amount specified in the claim. The loss on the deemed disposal is an allowable loss, provided that any gain that had arisen on the disposal of the asset had been an allowable loss. It should be noted that the allowable loss arises from the deemed disposal rather than from the negligible value claim itself.

    In certain circumstances where the claim relates to qualifying shares, the loss can be set against income.

  • Making Tax Digital for VAT – what records must be kept digitally

    Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT starts from 1 April 2019. VAT-registered businesses whose turnover is above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 will be required to comply with MTD for VAT from the start of their first VAT accounting period to begin on or after 1 April 2019.

    Digital record-keeping obligations

    Under MTD for VAT, businesses will be required to keep digital records and to file their VAT returns using functional compatible software. The following records must be kept digitally.

    Designatory data - Business name - Address of the principal place of business - VAT registration number - A record of any VAT schemes used (such as the flat rate scheme)

    Supplies made - for each supply made: - Date of supply - Value of the supply - Rate of VAT charged

    Outputs value for the VAT period split between standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate and outside the scope supplies must also be recorded.

    Multiple supplies made at the same time do not need to be recorded separately – record the total value of supplies on each invoice that has the same time of supply and rate of VAT charged.

    Supplies received - for each supply received: - The date of supply - The value of the supply, including any VAT that cannot be reclaimed - The amount of input VAT to be reclaimed.

    If there is more than one supply on the invoice, it is sufficient just to record the invoice totals.

    Digital VAT account

    The VAT account links the business records and the VAT return. The VAT account must be maintained digitally, and the following information should be recorded digitally:

    1. The output tax owed on sales.
    2. The output tax owed on acquisitions from other EU member states.
    3. The tax that must be paid on behalf of suppliers under the reverse charge procedures.
    4. Any VAT that must be paid following a correction or an adjustment for an error.
    5. Any other adjustments required under the VAT rules.

    In addition, to show the link between the input tax recorded in the business' records and that reclaimed on the VAT return, the following must be recorded digitally:

    1. The input tax which can be reclaimed from business purchases.
    2. The input tax allowable on acquisitions from other EU member states.
    3. Any VAT that can be reclaimed following a correction or an adjustment for an error.
    4. Any other necessary adjustments.

    The information held in the Digital VAT account is used to complete the VAT return using `functional compatible software’.  This is software, or a set of compatible software programmes, capable of:

    • Recording electronically the data required to be kept digitally under MTD for VAT.
    • Preserving those records electronically.
    • Providing HMRC with the required information and VAT return electronically from the data in the electronic records using an API platform.
    • Receiving information from HMRC.

    Functional compatible software is used to maintain the mandatory digital records, calculate the return and submit it to HMRC via an API.

    Getting ready - The clock is ticking and MTD for VAT is now less than a year away.

  • Family companies – optimal salary for 2019/20

    For personal and family companies it can be beneficial to extract some profits in the form of a salary. Where the individual does not have the 35 qualifying years necessary to qualify for the full single-tier state pension, paying a salary which is equal to or above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes will ensure that the year is a qualifying year.

    New tax rates and allowances came into effect from 6 April 2019, applying for the 2019/20 tax year. These have an impact on the optimal salary calculation for family and personal companies. As in previous years, the optimal salary level will depend on whether or not the National Insurance employment allowance is available.

    It should be remembered that directors have an annual earnings period for NI purposes.

    Employment allowance unavailable - Companies in which the sole employee is also a director are not able to benefit from the employment allowance. This means that most personal companies are not eligible for the allowance. Where the allowance is not available or has been utilised elsewhere, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary and secondary threshold set at £8,632 (equivalent to £719 per month and £166 per week).

    At this level, assuming that the director’s personal allowance (set at £12,500) is available, there is no tax or employer’s or employee’s National Insurance to pay. However, as the salary is above the lower earnings limit of £6,136 (£512 per month, £118 per week), it will provide a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes.

    The salary is deductible in computing the company’s taxable profits for corporation tax purposes, saving corporation tax of 19%.

    Employment allowance is available - It is beneficial to pay a salary equal to the personal allowance (assuming that this is not used elsewhere) where the employment allowance (set at £3,000 for 2019/20) is available to shelter the employer’s National Insurance that would otherwise arise to the extent that the salary exceeds £8,632.

    Although employee’s National Insurance is payable to the extent that the salary exceeds the primary threshold of £8,632, this is more than offset by the corporation tax deduction on the higher salary.

    For 2019/20, a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 exceeds the primary threshold by £3,868. Therefore, employee’s National Insurance of £464.16 (£3,868 @ 12%) is payable on a salary of £12,500. However, as salary payments are deductible for corporation tax purposes, the additional salary of £3,868 saves corporation tax of £734.92 (£3,868 @ 19%). This exceeds the employee’s National Insurance payable by £270.46.

    So paying a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 allows more profits to be retained (to the tune of £270.46) than paying a salary equal to the primary threshold of £8,632.

    If the director has a higher personal allowance, for example, where he or she receives the marriage allowance, the optimal salary is one equal to that higher personal allowance.

    Director is under 21 - Where the director is under the age of 21, the optimal salary is one equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 regardless of whether the employment allowance is available. No employer National Insurance is payable on the earnings of employees or directors under the age of 21 until their earnings exceeds the upper secondary threshold for under 21's set at £50,000 for 2019/20. Employee contributions are, however, payable as normal

    Any benefit in paying a salary above the personal allowance? - Once the personal allowance is reached it is not worthwhile paying a higher salary as further salary payments will be taxed and the combined tax and National Insurance hit will outweigh the corporation tax savings.

  • Be aware of 60% tax rate risk on bonuses

    In the lead up to Christmas and the end of the financial year for many businesses, some directors and employees may be fortunate enough to be thinking of a bonus. If this is the case, it might be worth reviewing things beforehand to see if there is a risk of suffering effective tax rates of up to 60%, and if so, whether this can be avoided.

    The risk of paying a high effective tax rate on a bonus stems from the abatement of the personal tax allowance where the individual’s ‘adjusted net income’ is equal to, or above, £100,000 for a particular tax year. The personal tax allowance for 2019/20 is £12,500, but this will be reduced by £1 for every £2 the taxpayer’s income is over that limit. The personal allowance may be reduced to nil from this income limit. Broadly, ‘adjusted net income’ is total taxable income before any personal allowances, less certain tax reliefs (including trading losses, Gift Aid donations, and pension contributions).

    As a consequence of the personal allowance abatement rules, a taxpayer with income between £100,000 and approximately £119,000 will suffer marginal tax rates of up to 60% as the personal allowance is withdrawn.

    Example

    Graham is an employee of a company from which he draws a salary of £100,000 per annum He has no other sources of income. In December 2019 he will be paid a bonus of £7,000. He is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019/20, but he loses £3,500 of it (£1 for every £2 earned over £100,000 ((£107,000 – £100,000) /2)), leaving him with an allowance of £9,000. He will pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, plus an extra £1,400 due to lost allowances (£3,500 × 40%). His total tax attributable to the bonus is therefore £4,200. Graham will therefore pay tax on the bonus at an effective rate of 60% (£4,200/£7,000 x 100).

    Hannah on the other hand, receives an annual salary of £125,000 from employment. She also has no other sources of income. Hannah is also expecting to receive a bonus of £7,000 in December 2019. She is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019-20, but she loses entitlement to all of it because her basic salary exceeds the point at which the allowance is fully withdrawn (£125,000). Receiving the bonus, therefore, results in no further adjustment to her personal allowance. She will simply pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, which means that her effective tax rate on that part of his income is only 40%.

    So, what action can be taken to minimise exposure to these marginal rates?

    Taxpayers with income slightly exceeding the £100,000 ceiling may avoid losing some or all of their personal allowance by taking steps to reduce ‘adjusted net income’ to below the abatement threshold. Options worth considering may include:

     • Increasing pension contributions - for example, a taxpayer with income of £105,000 might consider making a pension contribution of £5,000. They will get 40% tax relief on the contribution, and the full personal allowance will be reinstated.

     • Making donations to charity under the Gift Aid scheme. For the charity, the donation is assumed to be made net of basic rate tax, which the charity claims back from HMRC. For the taxpayer, their basic rate tax band is increased by the value of the gross donation, which in turn reduces the amount of income to be taxed at the higher rate.

     • Consider transferring income-producing assets to a lower-earning spouse or partner.

    As with all tax planning opportunities, the wider picture should be considered before taking any action. In particular, the benefits of any tax saving need to outweigh the cost and administrative inconvenience of the transaction.

  • Self-employed – How to calculate your payments on account

    The deadline for filing the self-assessment tax return for 2018/19 is 31 January 2020. This is also the date by which any outstanding tax for 2018/19 must be paid and, where payments need to be made on account, the date by which the first payment on account of the 2019/20 liability must be made.

    What is a payment on account? -  As the name suggest, a payment on account is an advance payment towards a taxpayer’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill. Where payments on account are due, the tax is payable in two instalments on 1 January in the tax year and on 31 July after the tax year rather than in full in a single instalment of 31 January after the tax year.

    As the payments on account are based on the previous year’s liability, it is not an exact science – there may be more tax to pay or the taxpayer may have paid too much. Any balancing payment must be made by 31 January after the end of the tax year. If the taxpayer has paid too much, the excess will normally be set against the next year’s payments on account or refunded if none are due.

    When must payments on account be made? - Payments on account must be made where tax and Class 4 National Insurance for the previous tax year was £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of the tax owed has been deducted at source, for example under PAYE.

    Payments on account are not required when tax and Class 4 National Insurance bill for the previous year was less than £1,000.

    Calculating the payments on account - Each payment on account is 50% of the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability.

    Class 2 National Insurance contributions are not taken into account in calculating the payments on account and must be paid in full by 31 January after the end of the tax year.

    Example - Richard is a sole trader. In 2018/19 his profits from self-employment were £30,000. He has no other income.

    His income tax liability for 2018/19 is £3,630 (20% (£30,000 - £11,850)) and his Class 4 National Insurance liability is £1,941.84 (9% (£30,000 - £8,424).

    His combined tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability is thus £5771.84.

    As this is more than £1,000, he must make payments on account of the 2019/20 tax year of £2,785.92 on 1 January 2020 and 31 July 2020. Each payment is 50% of the previous year’s liability of £5771.84. If the liability for 2019/20 is more than £5,771.84, the balance must be paid by 31 January 2021, together with the Class 2 National Insurance for 2019/20.

    Beware fluctuating years - Where the tax and Class 4 liability is under £1,000 one year but not the next, the payments can fluctuate widely – this may hit the taxpayer hard.

    Example - Tim has a tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability of £900 in 2017/18. As a result, he is not required to make payments on account for 2018/19. However, 2018/19 is a good year and his tax and National Insurance liability is £4,000. As payments on account were not made, the amount is due in full by 31 January 2020. Also, because it is more than £1,000, he must make payments on account for 2019/20.

    As a result, he has to pay £6,000 on 31 January 2019 – the full liability for 2018/19 (£4,000) and the first payment on account of £2,000 (50% of £4,000) for 2019/20. The second payment on account for 2019/20 of £2,000 is due by 31 July 2020.

    Reduce payments on account - If the taxpayer knows that income in the current year will be less than the previous year, they can ask HMRC to reduce the payments on account. However, interest is charged on the shortfall if the payments are reduced below the level they should be.

  • VAT registration – sooner or later?

    Once a business is up and running, the next major administrative area to be faced often concerns the subject of VAT. At first glance, it looks complicated - not to mention time-consuming - particularly for small businesses. However, taken one step at a time, the rules governing VAT registration and invoicing are generally quite straight-forward and relatively easy to navigate.

    The law states that all traders – whether sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies – are obliged to register to charge and pay VAT once their taxable turnover reaches a pre-set annual threshold, which is currently £85,000. Broadly, a business must register for VAT if:

    • its taxable outputs, including zero-rates sales (but not exempt, non-business, or ‘outside the scope’ supplies), have exceeded the registration threshold in the previous 12 calendar months – unless the business can satisfy HMRC that its taxable supplies in the next 12 months will not exceed a figure £2,000 below the registration threshold (so currently £83,000); or

    • there are reasonable grounds for believing that the business’s taxable outputs in the next 30 days will exceed the registration threshold; or

    • the business takes over another business as a going concern, to which the two bullet points above apply.

    A business can register for VAT voluntarily if its turnover is below the threshold and it may actually save tax by doing so, particularly if its main clients or customers are organisations that can reclaim VAT themselves.

    Example - Sandra is a non-VAT registered carpenter and a basic rate taxpayer. She buys a new saw to use in her business, which cost £100 plus VAT, so she pays a total of £120 (£100 plus VAT at 20%), which can be set against her business profits for income tax purposes. As Sandra is a basic rate (20%) taxpayer, she will save tax of £24 (20% of £120), so the saw actually costs her £96. However, if the business is VAT-registered, the £20 VAT paid on the item (the input tax) can be reclaimed and £100 is set against business profits for income tax. The tax reduction is therefore £20 (20% of £100) and the saw actually costs him £80 – saving £16 by being registered for VAT.

    Is non-registration preferable? - VAT-registered businesses supplying goods and services to private individuals often feel dis-advantaged compared with their non-registered counterparts because they have to charge an additional 20% on every bill issued.

    A trader who does not want to have to register for VAT, may be able to stay below the annual VAT registration threshold by supplying labour-only services and getting customers to buy any goods needed themselves.

    Example - Bob is a non-VAT registered plumber, but his turnover is creeping up towards the VAT registration threshold. He could ask his customers to buy materials for a job directly from a DIY shop. Although the customers will have to pay the VAT on these items, they won’t have to pay VAT on Bob’s invoice for labour services. This will also have the additional advantage of reducing Bob’s annual turnover for VAT registration purposes.

    Registration benefits - Deciding whether to register for VAT voluntarily before the registration threshold is reached is a big decision that can have lasting implications for the financial health of the business. It is vital therefore, that the matter is given careful consideration. There are several positive reasons supporting voluntary registration, including:

    • Reclaiming VAT - although a registered business will have to charge VAT on goods and services (known as charging ‘output tax’), it will also be able to reclaim VAT that it is charged by other businesses (known as ‘input tax’). Where input tax exceeds output tax in a given period, the business will generally be able to reclaim the difference from HMRC.

    • Marketplace perceptions - some businesses choose to register for VAT in order to appear larger than they are. Customers are likely to be aware of the £85,000 registration threshold and where a business is not registered, its customers will know that the business turnover is lower than this. A business may therefore consider registration as a way of increasing its standing amongst competitors, and in the eyes of clients.

  • Salary v dividend for 2019/20

    A popular profits extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to extract a small salary, taking further profits as dividends. Where this strategy is pursued for 2019/20, what level should be the salary be set at to ensure the strategy remain tax efficient?

    Salary

    As well as being tax effective, taking a small salary is also advantageous in that it allows the individual to secure a qualifying year for State Pension and contributory benefits purposes.

    Assuming the personal allowance has not been used elsewhere and is available to set against the salary, the optimal salary level for 2019/20 depends on whether the employment allowance is available and whether the employee is under the age of 21. The employment allowance is set at £3,000 for 2019/20 but is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director (meaning that personal companies do not generally benefit).

    In the absence of the employment allowance and where the individual is aged 21 or over, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary threshold, i.e. £8,632 a year (equivalent to £719 per month). At this level, no employee’s or employer’s National Insurance or tax is due. The salary is also deductible for corporation tax purposes. A bonus is that a salary at this level means that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes – for zero contribution cost. Beyond this level, it is better to take dividends than pay a higher salary as the combined National Insurance hit (25.8%) is higher than the corporation tax deduction for salary payments.

    Where the employment allowance is available, or the employee is under 21, it is tax-efficient to pay a higher salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500. As long as the personal allowance is available, the salary will be tax free. It will also be free of employer’s National Insurance, either because the liability is offset by the employment allowance or, if the individual is under 21, because earnings are below the upper secondary threshold for under 21s (set at £50,000 for 2019/20). The salary paid in excess of the primary threshold (£3,868) will attract primary contributions of £464.16, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax saving on the additional salary of £734.92 – a net saving of £279.76. Once a salary equal to the personal allowance is reached, the benefit of the corporation tax deduction is lost as any further salary is taxable. It is tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends.

    Dividends

    Dividends can only be paid if the company has sufficient retained profits available. Unlike salary payments, dividends are not tax-deductible and are paid out of profits on which corporation tax (at 19%) has already been paid.

    However, dividends benefit from their own allowance – set at £2,000 for 2019/20 and payable to all individuals regardless of the rate at which they pay tax – and once the allowance has been used, dividends are taxed at lower rates than salary payments (7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1% rather than 20%, 40% and 45%).

    Once the optimal salary has been paid, dividends should be paid to use up the dividend allowance. If further profits are to be extracted, there will be tax to pay, but the combined tax and National Insurance hit for dividends is less than for salary payments, making them the preferred option.

  •  

  • Zero charge for zero emission cars

    From 6 April 2020, the way in which carbon dioxide emissions for cars are measured is changing – moving from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) (used for cars registered prior to 6 April 2020) to the Worldwide Light Testing Procedure (WLTP) for cars registered on or after 6 April 2020.

    For an introductory period, the appropriate percentages for cars registered on or after 6 April 2020 are reduced – being two percentage points lower than cars with the same CO2 emissions registered prior to 6 April 2020 for 2020/21 and one percentage point lower for 2021/22. From 2022/23 the appropriate percentages are aligned regardless of which method is used to determine the emissions.

    Zero emission cars

    As part of the transition, the appropriate percentage for zero emission cars is reduced to 0% for 2020/21 and to 1% for 2021/22. This applies regardless of when the car was registered.

    The charge was originally set at 2% for 2020/21 and 2021/22, and will revert to this level from 2022/23.

    Impact

    Electric company car drivers were already set to enjoy a tax reduction. The appropriate percentage for 2019/20 is 16% and was due to fall to 2% from 6 April 2020. However, the further reduction to 0% means that those who have opted for an electric company car can enjoy the benefit tax-free in 2020/21. Their employers will also be relieved of the associated Class 1A National Insurance charge.

    Case study

    Kim has an electric company car throughout 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22. The car has a list price of £32,000. Kim is a higher rate taxpayer.

    In 2019/20, Kim is taxed on 16% of the list price – a taxable benefit of £5,120. As a higher rate taxpayer, the tax hit is £2,048 (40% of £5,120). Her employer must also pay Class 1 National Insurance of 13.8% on the taxable amount (£706.56).

    In 2020/21, the appropriate percentage is 0% so there is no tax or Class 1A National Insurance to pay. This is a significant reduction compared to 2019/20.

    In 2021/22, the charge is 1% of the list price, equal to £320, on which the tax is £128 (assuming a 40% tax rate) and the Class 1A National Insurance is £44.16.

    From 2021/22 the charge is 2% of the list price – equal to £640.

    Not quite zero emissions

    It is also possible to enjoy a company car tax-free in 2020/21 if it is registered on or after 6 April 2020, has emissions of between 1 and 50g/km (measured under the WLTP) and an electric range of at least 130 miles.

    Go electric

    The benefits of choosing electric cars from a tax perspective, as well as from an environmental one, are significant.

  • Director’s salary or bonus?

    Given current tax rates, paying a dividend rather than a salary will often be a more cost-effective way of withdrawing profits from a company.  Tax is currently payable on any dividend income received over the £2,000 annual dividend allowance at the following rates:

     • 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band (up to £37,500 in 2019-20)

     • 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band (£37,501 to £150,000 in 2019-20)

     • 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band (over £150,000 in 2019-20)

    However, if the company is loss-making and has no retained profits, it will not be possible to declare a dividend, and an alternative will need to be considered. This often involves an increased salary or a one-off bonus payment.

    From a tax perspective, the position will be the same whether a salary or bonus is paid. Both types of payment attract income tax at the recipient’s relevant rate of tax (20%, 40% or 45% as appropriate).

    However, from a National Insurance Contributions (NICs) perspective, the position, and any potential cost savings, will depend on whether or not the payment is made to a director.

    Directors have an annual earnings period for NIC purposes. Broadly, this means that NICs payable will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made in regular instalments or as a single lump sum bonus.  In addition, since there is no upper limit of employer (secondary) NICs, the company’s position will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made by way of a salary or a bonus.

    Where a bonus or salary payment is to be made to another family member who is not a director, the earnings period rules mean that it may be possible to save employees’ NICs by paying a one-off bonus rather than a regular salary.

    Example - Henry is the sole director of a company and an equal 50% shareholder with his wife Susan. In 2019/20 they each receive a salary of £720 per month.

    In the year ended 31 March 2020, the company makes profits of £24,000 (after paying the salaries). The profits are to be shared equally between Henry and Susan. They want to know whether it will be more cost effective to extract the profits as an additional salary – each receiving an additional £1,000 per month for the next twelve months - or as a one-off bonus payment with each receiving £12,000.

    The income tax position will be the same regardless of which method is used.

    As Henry is a director, his NIC position will be the same regardless of which route is taken as he has an annual earnings period for NIC purposes.

    Susan is not a director, so the normal earnings period for NIC in a month will be the interval in which her existing salary is paid.

    Assuming NIC rates and thresholds remain the same in 2020/21, if Susan receives an additional salary of £1,000 a month, she will pay Class 1 NIC of £120 (£1,000 x 12%) a month on that additional salary. Her annual NIC bill on the additional salary of £12,000 will be £1,440.

    However, if she receives a lump sum bonus of £12,000 in one month (in addition to her normal monthly salary of £720), she will pay NIC on the bonus of £585 ((£3,450 x 12%) + (£8,550 x 2%)).

    Paying a bonus instead of a salary reduces Susan’s NIC bill by £855.

    Finally, it is important to note that in determining an effective company profit extraction strategy, tax should never be the only consideration. Any profit extraction strategy should be consistent with the wider goals and aims of the company.

  • Private residence relief and the final period exemption

    From a capital gains tax perspective, there are significant tax savings to be had if a property has been the owner’s only or main residence. The main gains are where the property has been the only or main residence throughout the whole period of ownership as private residence relief applies in full to shelter any gain arising on the disposal of the property from capital gains tax.

    However, there are also advantages if a property enjoys only or main residence status for part of the ownership period; not only are any gains relating to that period sheltered from capital gains tax, but those covered by the final period exemption are also tax-free.

    The final period exemption works to shelter any gain arising in the final period of ownership from capital gains tax if the property has at any time, however briefly, been the owner’s only or main residence. This can be particularly useful if the property is, say, lived in as a main home and then let out prior to being sold, or where a person has two or more residences.

    Prior to 6 April 2020, the final period exemption applies generally to the last 18 months of ownership. Where the person making the disposal is a disabled person or a long-term resident in a care home, the final period exemption applies to the last 36 months of ownership.

    From 6 April 2020, the final period exemption is reduced to nine months, although it will remain at 36 months for care home residents and disabled persons.

    Planning ahead

    Where a property which has been occupied as a main residence at some point, it could be very advantageous to dispose of it prior to 6 April 2020 rather than after that date to benefit from the longer final period exemption.

    Example

    Frankie has a cottage on the coast that he brought on 1 January 2010 for £200,000. He lived in it as his main residence for two years until 31 December 2011, when he purchased a city flat which has been his main residence since that date. He continues to use the cottage as a holiday home.

    He plans to sell the cottage and expects to get £320,000.

    Scenario 1 – sale on 31 March 2020

    If Frankie sells the cottage on 31 March 2020, he will have owned the cottage for a total of 10 years and three months (123 months). Of that period, he lived in it for 24 months as his only or main residence. As the sale takes place prior to 6 April 2020, he will benefit from the final period exemption for the last 18 months.

    The gain on sale is £120,000 (£320,000 - £200,000)

    He qualifies for 42 months’ private residence relief, which is worth £40,976 (42/123 x £120,000).

    The chargeable gain is therefore £79,024 (£120,000 - £40,976).

    Scenario 2 – sale on 30 April 2020

    If Frankie does not sell the property until 30 April 2020, he will only benefit from a nine-month final period exemption. If he sells on this date, he will have owned the property for 124 months. Assuming the sale price remains at £320,000 and the gain at £120,000, the gain which is sheltered by private residence relief is £31,935 (33/124 x £120,000), and the chargeable gain is increased to £88,065 (£120,000 - £31,935).

    If planning to dispose of a property which has been an only or main residence for some but not all of the period of ownership, selling prior to 6 April 2020 will enable the owner to shelter the gain pertaining to the last 18 months of ownership.

  • Buying a property to let – the importance of keeping records

    For tax purposes, good record keeping is essential. Without complete and accurate records, it will not be possible to provide correct details of taxable income or to benefit from allowable deductions. Aside from the risk of paying more tax than is necessary, landlords who fail to take their record keeping obligations seriously may also find that they are on the receiving end of a penalty from HMRC.

    Recording expenses - A deduction is available for expenses that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the rental business. A deduction is available for qualifying revenue expenses regardless of whether the accounts are prepared on the cash basis or under the traditional accruals basis.

    Revenue expenses are varied and are those expenses incurred in the day to day running of the property rental business. They include:

    • office expenses • phone calls • cost of advertising for tenants • fees paid to a managing agent • cleaning costs • insurance • general maintenance and repairs

    A record should be kept of all revenue expenses, supported by invoices, receipts and suchlike.

    The treatment of capital expenditure depends on whether the cash or the accruals basis is used. For most smaller landlords, the cash basis is now the default basis.

    Under the cash basis, capital expenditure can be deducted unless the disallowance is specifically prohibited (as in the case in relation to cars and land and property). Under the accruals basis, a deduction is not given for capital expenditure, although in limited cases capital allowances may be available. Capital expenditure would include improvements to the property and new furniture or equipment which does not replace old items.

    Records should identify whether expenditure is capital or revenue and also whether it relates to private expenditure so that it can be excluded.

    Records should also be kept of replacement domestic items and the nature of those items. A deduction is available on a like-for-like basis.

    Start date - Although the property rental business does not start until the property is first let, records should start as soon as expenditure is incurred in preparation for the letting.

    As well as allowing relief for expenses incurred while the property is let, relief is also available for expenses which are related to the property rental business and which are incurred in the seven years prior to the start of the business. Relief is given on the same basis as for expenses incurred after the start of the property rental business; expenses can be deducted as long as they are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the property rental business. Capital expenditure is treated in accordance with rules applying to the chosen basis of accounts preparation.

    Relief is available under the pre-trading rules, as long as:

    • the expenditure is incurred within a period of seven years before the date on which the rental business started

    • the expenditure is not otherwise allowable as a deduction for tax purposes

    • the expenditure would have been allowed as a deduction has it been incurred after the rental business had started

    Relief is given by treating the expenses as if they were incurred on the first day of the property rental business.

    Expenses incurred in getting a property ready to let can be significant. It is important that accurate records are kept of all expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the let from the outset so that valuable deductions are not overlooked.

  • Tax relief on business-related loans

    Subject to certain conditions and restrictions, tax relief will generally be available for interest paid on loans to, or overdrafts of, a business in the form of a deductible expense. Different rules for loan interest relief apply to smaller businesses using HMRC’s cash basis for income tax purposes (see below).

    One of the main qualifying conditions for the deduction is that the interest must be paid wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business and at a reasonable rate of interest. Tax relief is only available on interest payments - the repayment of the capital element of a loan is never tax-deductible.

    Where only part of a loan satisfies the conditions for interest relief, only a proportion of the interest will be eligible, for example, interest payable in respect of, say, a car used partly for business and partly for private purposes will be apportioned accordingly. Note, however, that tax relief is not available for an employee using a privately-owned car for the purposes of his or her employment, although tax-free business mileage payments may usually be claimed.

    A deduction cannot be claimed for notional interest that might have been obtained if money had been invested rather than spent on (for example) repairs.

    In addition, a deduction will not be allowed if a loan effectively funds a business owner’s overdrawn current/capital account.

    Anti-avoidance rules exist to prevent tax relief on loan interest paid where the sole or main benefit to the payer from the transaction is to obtain a tax advantage.

    Incidental costs

    In addition to loan interest relief, the incidental costs of obtaining loan finance, such as fees, commissions, advertising and printing, will also be deductible in most cases. The deduction for incidental costs is given at the same time as any other deduction in computing profits for income tax purposes.

    Cash basis

    From 2013/14 onwards, eligible unincorporated small businesses may choose to use the cash basis when calculating taxable income, and all unincorporated businesses have the option to use certain flat-rate expenses when calculating taxable income.

    The general rule for businesses that have chosen to use the cash basis is that no deduction is allowed for the interest paid on a loan. This is however, subject to a specific exception. Where the deduction for loan interest would be disallowed under this general rule or because (and only because) it is not an expense wholly and exclusively for the trade, a deduction is allowed of up to £500.

    This £500 limit does not apply to payments of interest on purchases, provided the purchase itself is an allowable expense, as this is not cash borrowing. However, if the item purchased is used for both business and non-business purposes, only the proportion of interest related to the business usage is allowable.

    If a deduction is also claimed for the incidental costs of obtaining finance, the maximum deduction for both these expenses together is £500.

    If a business has interest and finance costs of less than £500 then the split between business costs and any personal interest charges does not have to be calculated.

    Businesses should review annual business interest costs - if it is anticipated that these costs will be more than £500, it may be more appropriate for the business to opt out of the cash basis and obtain tax relief for all the business-related financing costs.

  • Employer-funded scholarships

    Special tax rules apply to scholarships, which include exhibitions, bursaries or other similar education endowments.

    Provided certain conditions are met, there will be no tax or reporting implications where an employer funds a ‘fortuitous’ scholarship for an employee’s family member. Broadly, this means that there must be no direct connection between the employee working for the employer and their family member getting the scholarship.

    A scholarship is 'fortuitous' if all the following apply:

    • the person with the scholarship is in full-time education

    • the scholarship would still have gone to that person even if their family member did not work for the employer

    • the scholarship is run from a trust fund or under a scheme

    • 25% or fewer of the payments made by the fund or scheme are for employment-linked scholarships

    If the scholarship does not qualify for exemption, the employer must report it to HMRC on form P11D and pay Class 1A NICs on the cost of providing it.

    Unfortunately, in a family company, directors’ children are unable to take advantage of this provision because the tax legislation deems there to be a benefit in kind. However, in some circumstances a remoter relative (for example a grandparent) could establish such a scheme provided that the student was validly employed and their parents are not involved with the company.

    Sandwich courses - An employee in full-time employment may leave that employment for a period to attend an educational establishment but continue to receive payments from their employer, for example where the employee is on a ‘sandwich’ course. Such payments will be treated as exempt from income tax, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

    1. The employer must require the employee to be enrolled at the educational establishment for at least one academic year and to attend the course for at least 20 weeks in that academic year. If the course is longer, the employee must attend for at least 20 weeks on average, in an academic year over the period of the course.

    2. The establishment must be a recognised university, technical college or ‘similar educational establishment’, open to the public and offering more than one course of practical or academic instruction.

    3. The payments must not exceed a specified maximum figure for the academic year. This figure must include lodging, subsistence and travel allowances but does not include any tuition fees payable to the establishment by the employee. Note that:

    (a) the exemption can apply to payments of earnings payable to the student for periods spent studying at the educational establishment

    (b) it cannot, however, cover payments made for any periods spent working for the employer, whether during vacations or otherwise

    (c) the current maximum figure is £15,480 per academic year

    (d) in principle, the limit is all or nothing: if it is breached then the whole amount is taxable. However, if an increased payment is made during the academic year then this does not invalidate earlier payments made within the agreed limit

    Qualifying payments will also be exempt for Class 1 National Insurance Contributions purposes.

  • Optimising tax-free benefits in family companies

    Making use of statutory exemptions for certain benefits-in-kind offers an opportunity to extract funds from a family company without triggering a tax charge.

    The essential point to note is that to make the tax saving, the benefit itself, rather than the funds with which to buy the benefit, must be provided.

    Mobiles - No tax charge arises where an employer provides an employee with a mobile phone, irrespective of the level of private use. The exemption applies to one phone per employee.

    A taxable benefit will however, arise if the employer meets the employee's private bill for a mobile phone or if top-up vouchers are provided which can be used on any phone

    Example - John and Jan Smith are directors of their family-owned company. Their two children also work for the company. The company takes out a contract for four mobile phones and provides each member of the family with a phone. The bills are paid directly to the phone provider by the company. The bills are deductible in computing profits. Each family member receives the use of a phone tax-free, which means they do not need to fund one from their post-tax income.

    Pension contributions - Pensions remain a particularly tax-efficient form of savings since nearly everyone is entitled to receive relief on contributions up to an annual maximum regardless of whether they pay tax or not. The maximum amount on which a non-taxpayer can currently receive basic rate tax relief is £3,600. So an individual can pay in £2,880 a year, but £3,600 will be the amount actually invested by the pension provider. Higher amounts may be invested, but tax relief will not be given on the excess. Any tax relief received from HMRC on excess contributions may have to be repaid.

    Pension contributions paid by a company in respect of its directors or employees are allowable unless there is an identifiable non-trade purpose. Contributions relating to a controlling director (one who owns more than 20% of the company’s share capital), or an employee who is a relative or close friend of the controlling director, may be queried by HMRC. In establishing whether a payment is for the purposes of the trade, HMRC will examine the company’s intentions in making the payment.

    Pension contributions will be viewed in the light of the overall remuneration package and if the level of the package is excessive for the value of the work undertaken, the contributions may be disallowed. However, HMRC will generally accept that contributions are paid ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’ where the remuneration package paid is comparable with that paid to unconnected employees performing duties of similar value.

    Subject to certain conditions being satisfied, other tax-free benefits that a family company may consider include:

    • bicycles or bicycle safety equipment for travel to work

    • gifts not costing more than £250 per year from any one donor

    • Christmas and other parties, dinners, etc, provided the total cost to the employer for each person attending is not more than £150 a year

    • one health screening and one medical check-up per employee, per year

    • the first £500 worth of pensions advice provided to an employee (including former and prospective employees) in a tax year

    • medical treatments recommended by employer-arranged occupational health services. The exemption is subject to an annual cap of £500 per employee

    Employing family members, and providing them tax-free benefits, often enables a family-owned company to take advantage of the lower tax rates, personal allowances and exemptions that may be available to a spouse, civil partner, or children. In turn, this arrangement can help reduce the household’s overall tax bill.

  • When is a car a pool car?

    Rather than allocating specific cars to particular employees, some employers find it preferable to operate a carpool and have a number of cars available for use by employees when they need to undertake a business journey. From a tax perspective, provided that certain conditions are met, no benefit in kind tax charge will arise where an employee makes use of a pool car.

    The conditions

    There are five conditions that must be met for a car to be treated as a pool car for tax purposes.

    1. The car is made available to, and actually is used by, more than one employee.

    2. In each case, it is made available by reason of the employee’s employment.

    3. The car is not ordinarily used by one employee to the exclusion of the others.

    4. In each case, any private use by the employee is merely incidental to the employee’s business use of the car.

    5. The car is not normally kept overnight on or in the vicinity of any of the residential premises where any of the employees was residing (subject to an exception if kept overnight on premises occupied by the person making the cars available).

    The tax exemption only applies if all five conditions are met.

    When private use is ‘merely incidental’

    To meet the definition of a pool car, the car should only be available for genuine business use. However, in deciding whether this test is met, private use is disregarded as long as that private use is ‘merely incidental’ to the employee’s business use of the car.

    HMRC regard the test as being a qualitative rather than a quantitative test. It does not refer to the actual private mileage, rather the private element in the context of the journey as a whole. For example, if an employee is required to make a long business journey and takes the car home the previous evening in order to get an early start, the private use comprising the journey from work to home the previous evening would be regarded as ‘merely incidental’. The car is taken home to facilitate the business journey the following day.

    Kept overnight at employee’s homes – the 60% test

    For a car to meet the definition of a pool car, it must not normally be kept overnight at employees’ homes. In deciding whether this test is met, HMRC apply a rule of thumb – as long as the total number of nights on which a car is taken home by employees, for whatever reason, is less than 60% of the total number of nights in the period, HMRC accept that the condition is met.

    When a benefit in kind tax charge arises

    If the car does not meet the definition of a pool car and is made available for the employee’s private use, a tax charge will arise under the company car tax rules.

  • Weighing up LLPs

    A limited liability partnership (LLP) is similar to an ordinary partnership in that a number of people or limited companies join together and share the costs, risks, and responsibilities of the business. They also take a share of the profits and pay income tax and NICs on their share of the partnership profits.

    However, an LLP differs from an ordinary partnership in that its debt is usually limited to the amount of money each partner invested in the business and to any personal guarantees given to raise business finance. Therefore, members have some protection if the business runs into difficulties because their liability is restricted in general terms to the level of their investment.

    So, what other advantages can an LLP as a trading vehicle offer?

    Advantages

    Along similar lines to a company, an LLP is a separate legal person, meaning that the members are not personally or jointly liable for the LLP’s debts, and all contracts are between the LLP and its clients or third parties. If the LLP becomes insolvent, a member’s personal liability is normally limited to the amount of their agreed capital contribution plus the value of any personal guarantee. However, where negligence is involved, members may be personally liable to the full extent of their assets if they have assumed personal responsibility for the advice or work.

    The separate legal entity status also means that there is no need, for example, to transfer legal title to property on a change of membership. LLPs also have unlimited capacity and can enter into contracts and hold property in the same way as an individual.

    Members of the LLP are usually taxed as if they were partners and not employees or directors. They are therefore not liable to pay PAYE or Class 1 NICs.

    Businesses often find it easier to recruit new members to an LLP than to an ordinary partnership, where the prospect of unlimited liability can be a major disincentive to potential partners.

    Disadvantages

    The benefits of limited liability combined with a favourable tax treatment should not be underestimated, but they do come at a price, most notably the associated disclosure obligations.

    Where the LLP’s profit before members’ remuneration exceeds £200,000, there is a requirement to report the amount of profit attributable to the highest paid member (but not their name). Other disclosure includes total members’ remuneration, total members, average members’ remuneration and related party transactions.

    There will be costs to set up the LLP and ongoing filing fees. The administrative costs in notifying clients and suppliers and transferring bank accounts, leases and agreements will need to be considered.

    Corporate-type accounts have to be prepared, circulated to each member and filed on a public register within nine months of its year end. LLP accounts must comply with UK generally accepted accounting principles and other specific regulations.

    Loans and debts due to members (the equivalent of partnership current accounts), are required to be shown as liabilities rather than as part of capital alongside the partnership capital accounts. This in turn reduces the LLP’s net worth and may affect its credit rating and borrowing capacity.

    In relation to tax matters, the following areas will need careful thought:

    • tax relief for losses in trading LLPs is restricted

    • there will be no scope for tax-efficient share incentives for staff as there are with a company

    • anti-avoidance provisions may apply to ‘disguised employment’ situations

    Weighing up the pros and cons, in many cases, an LLP is likely to be more attractive to those who would have formed a partnership rather than a limited company, but who ultimately seek the benefit of limited liability.

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   Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd  -  61 Friar Gate   Derby   DE1 1DJ  -

adrian@adrianmooy.com

Adrian Mooy & Co - Accountants in Derby
61 Friar Gate Derby, Derbyshire DE1 1DJ
Phone: 01332 202660 Hours: Mon-Fri 9.00am - 5:00pm

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Adrian Mooy & Co is the trading name of Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd.  Registered in England No. 05770414.

Registered to carry out audit work in the UK by The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

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Registered office: 61 Friar Gate, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1 1DJ

 

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